By David Morgan, Associate Editor
In the closing stages of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, veteran Paul Menard made it clear he was not going to put up with any shenanigans, especially from one of the youngest drivers in the field, after a late race incident with 18-year old Harrison Burton.
After the two drivers raced hard and bounced off of each other at various points in the race, Menard decided he’d had enough and sent a message to the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with 45 laps remaining in the 200-lap event.
Burton passed Menard in Turns 3-4 and when they got down to Turn 1-2 the following lap, Menard drove in hard and made contact with the rear bumper of Burton’s car, sending him for a spin into the outside wall.
The incident sent Burton to pit road for extended repairs before eventually retiring, while Menard went on to finish fifth.
“He didn’t have to run into me, which he did, a couple of times,” said Menard. “He had a fast-enough car where he could have just been clean. I hate tearing up race cars. I didn’t really want to tear up his race car, that’s for sure, but sometimes enough is enough.”
“Some of these kids are really fun to race with and some of them just don’t get it, so I think you have to cut that shit out at an early age.”
Menard went on to allude to his actions being similar to how NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. would give his fellow drivers a warning shot before sending them for a spin in order to send a message.
“Ron Hornaday was the greatest at it. He’d stick one finger out the window, that’s one, and after two, there was no number three with Hornaday. I’m no Ron Hornaday, but that stuck with me.”
Though Burton was out of the race well before the finish, he waited around for the checkered flag and approached Menard on pit road to voice his displeasure with how everything had transpired between the two. In the end, they agreed to disagree before going their separate ways.
Needless to say, Burton was fired up about the contact and the conversation he and Menard had post-race, vowing to respond the only way he knew how – going out and beating him on track.
“He was holding us up for a long time in the race,” Burton said. “I raced him clean for a long time in the race, honestly the whole race. We got a restart there and the first thing that he said he was mad about was I hit him on the restart, but I was on the apron and he turned down across my nose and then got mad at me about that and then I barely touched his door and got out of the gas because I didn’t want to hit him any harder than I did. Then I let him go and I passed him clean and he wrecked me.
“Frustrating. He didn’t really seem to care and that’s fine for him. I’m just going to go out and beat him on the race track. That’s all you can do to show these guys that I’m here to play. I’m not here to get pushed around anymore. I’m just going to go out and win.”
As for the post-race comments that he and Menard had, Burton added that he wasn’t intimidated by the Cup Series veteran.
“I don’t care what series he races in or who he is. He raced me in a terrible way and I just decided I needed to hear from him what his story was. I didn’t like his story, so I’ll race him accordingly.”